Friday, November 30, 2012

Episode 1530: Shelving Done!

So it's taken some time, but all my books have finally been shelved! It does mean that there's pretty much no more space that I can utilise to fit any more books in, barring the occasional gap that's been intentionally left, as per what I mentioned yesterday. I suppose if I wanted to be really crazy though, I could just keep stacking the top shelf until the books reach the ceiling, but it would make trying to get any book from that shelf highly impractical. Of course, there's still space to stack another row of books in front of the ones already there on the bookshelves that aren't in my room, but I'm not sure my mum would be pleased to hear of that plan. Personally, I'm just glad it's all done. I think that I might really have to make a decision not to buy any new books for a couple of months, and actually stick to it this time. Well, after I get all the ones that I've been eyeing for a while now but have been holding off on ordering online until I get my first salary! It'll never end though, not unless the entire publishing industry collapsed overnight, so I really have to start being even more selective than I already am. Can you imagine if I actually wanted to read 'classic' novels (other than Thomas Hardy), rather than just contemporary fiction? My personal library could easily grow by another 100 volumes or so.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Episode 1529: Seven Seas Boxes Have Arrived!

So my Sevens Seas boxes have finally arrived, and like the other two times, I had no problems with the company at any point of the process. I've unboxed all the contents, and the clothes, kitchen implements and miscellaneous stuff have been put away, more or less. All that remains is the laborious process of shelving the books! I'm about halfway through the piles scattered on my floor, and if I were less OCD about the whole matter, I'd totally have been done by now. It's not just that I shelve alphabetically by publisher/imprint, then again within that by author. It's also that I try to anticipate where books will potentially need to be reorganised at a later date, e.g. shelves with books by Faber & Faber or Vintage, or with local publishers, Firstfruits or Math Paper Press. Minimises the amount of disruption later on, when I buy new books. I've also made the decision to relegate some sets of books to boxes, simply because it's not feasible for them all to be on the shelves. So now I've got two boxes of Bloodaxe books, my Marion Zimmer Bradley Darkover novels, and my OUP paperbacks under my bed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Episode 1528: You Give Something Away And People Still Complain...

Have started on my review of Post-Experimentalism, which will probably be finished over the weekend, depending on what time my Seven Seas boxes arrive tomorrow and how long it takes me to unpack everything. Am tempted to just leave the books in their boxes and ignore the matter until I find myself in need of one of those books, but my OCD tendencies in this area mean that I'll be ill at ease until at least the majority of them have been more or less alphabetically shelved by publisher. I've also just been amused by all the people ranting on the Facebook page of PixelCUBE Studios. A new entry in the Impossible Test franchise is being released tomorrow, but over the past couple of weeks, the company has been releasing codes for free downloads of The Impossible Test 2. I managed to nab one from the latest batch, and then sat back in amusement to read all the bitching that was happening in the Facebook comments threads. Sure, the codes were posted late, but really, no one's forcing you to wait around for a free game, if you have actual jobs to be getting on with, as some commenters complained they had.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Episode 1527: And The Dissertation Lives On!

What a day it's been. Didn't leave the house at all, but had a lot of good stuff happening over e-mail. Accepted a bunch of submissions for Eunoia Review, and I'm also going to do a Twitter chat in December with a contributor when his work is published. Will most likely be using the hashtag #EunoiaLIVE, so look out for that. (Could have saved #LIVEunoia to save one character, but two people pointed out on Facebook that there's a good chance people won't get it.) Might make it a semi-regular thing, if I can work out timezones with interested contributors. Readership for the journal has also rebounded after a sharp Thanksgiving slump, said slump also driving home once again where the bulk of the readers come from at the moment. In an even more exciting turn of events, Edwin Thumboo has read my dissertation and thinks I should consider publishing it. There's apparently an NAC grant that I could apply for, but I don't really know how to go about that anyway. He wants to meet when he gets back to Singapore next month though, so I'm sure I can talk about this with him then. Never imagined this could be on the cards for my academic writing, but honestly speaking, I won't pretend that publication wouldn't be a really nice way to cap my academic career so far. In any case, whatever else happens, it's great to have my research understood and valued!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Episode 1526: I Have Managed To Fall Sick Again Without Ever Fully Recovering From The Last Time

In spite of that, I've finished reading the second issue of theNewerYork last night, and like the first, it was excellent. Highly encourage everyone to check them out. Have also finished reading Bartleby Snopes's Post-Experimentalism, so I'm going to get cracking on that review tomorrow. Might even finish it in a single day, like I did with the last review I wrote. Moving on, I'm reading Wes Brown's Shark, as mentioned yesterday, and alternating that with Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Jane Austen served up with zombie mayhem by Seth Grahame-Smith. (He's also the guy we have to thank for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, and no, I haven't seen the film.) Beyond that, I was thinking of bumping up Jerrold Yam's Scattered Vertebrae on my to-review list, since Andrea wants to try and schedule it on Sidekick Books as close as possible to the collection's launch. It's either that collection, or finish reading Lander Hawes's Captivity, for a long-overdue review for The Conium Review. It's actually kind of embarrassing, how far behind I've allowed myself to slip where this to-review list is concerned.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Episode 1525: Maybe I Should Read Wolf Hall?

Have not read Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Wolf Hall, entirely because I'm not into historical fiction, but I did just read a 2010 article by her in Intelligent Life on what it was like to win the Booker and it made me like her as a writer and as a person. If the book weren't so long (and if there weren't already a sequel too), I'd probably pick it up now. From a practical point of view though, I still have too many other books that I need to read, which is something that I'm painfully aware I've been going on about for ages. I'm working on it though! Picking up Wes Brown's Shark again tomorrow, which I'd read a chunk of and enjoyed, but it's really not the sort of book that you can just dip into for a couple of pages at a time, to be honest, which is slightly problematic because my attention span has got really fragmented of late. Yet I remain committed to clearing my entire review backlog (or at least 75% of it) by the end of 2012. I could even confidently say it'll happen, assuming I go cold turkey on my TV shows, but we all know how likely that's going to be...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Episode 1524: God Of Carnage

Caught the SRT production of Yasmina Reza's God Of Carnage with Claudia and Peter. It reminded me of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, still one of my favourite plays, even though it's been so many years since I read it for my 'A' Levels. I think there might even have been a reference in God Of Carnage to the 'What a dump!' line from the Albee play's opening. (This is itself a reference to Bette Davis's line of dialogue from the film Beyond The Forest. Thanks Google!) Reza's play was a lot more farcical though, and it just felt like the humour was really French at times, in a good way. I enjoyed how the dynamics on stage were constantly shifting, as the alliances between characters were permuted. Something like that couldn't have worked if all four actors hadn't pulled equal weight onstage, so kudos to the cast. No idea if it's his natural one, but Art Acuña's New York accent was a nice touch, which as Claudia pointed out, perfectly suited his character. I would definitely be interested to see a production of this in French, or at least to read the original script.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Episode 1523: How Intelligent Do We Think Parcelforce Will Be?

So Parcelforce have finally forked over compensation for that damaged parcel. £27.88, which I believe is the exact value of the five books that I listed as damaged. Was kind of expecting them to pay out more than that, considering that I spent over £100 on the shipping in the first place. It remains to be seen, however, if they were intelligent enough to send the cheque to my Singaporean address. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if they just blindly posted it off to the Warwick one. Have sent an e-mail to check, and fingers crossed, I won't have to e-mail the Post Room to tell them to keep an eye out for a letter, which they may or may not do. I think the lesson here is that sometimes being literate and liking to read can become a bit of a pain. I can only hope that since the e-mail they sent me came in a couple of hours ago, typical British inefficiency means that they weren't planning on posting the cheque until after the weekend anyway. Of course, this also assumes that my timely reply gets read before any further action is taken, of which there is no guarantee. We're talking about a company that sent me a questionnaire by post, and then didn't reply to my online message that it never arrived. Would label it stonewalling, except I got a pretty quick reply when I bypassed the stupid online portal and sent an e-mail directly to the claims team.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Episode 1522: Really Thankful For...Thanksgiving (Eve)?

So it looks like I'm going to be a facilitator at another MOE scholarship tea session. Maybe I'll bump into an English HOD from a school nearer to where I live this time who's in need of teachers to join his/her department? Anyway, I seized the opportunity of hardly any original TV episodes airing on Thanksgiving Eve to get a review done at last. The same situation is going to be repeated tomorrow, so while I might not be able to get another review done, I can at least make significant progress in my reading. Won't even begin to whittle down the pile, but it's a start! Incidentally, I've started alternating between reading Huffington and Intelligent Life on my iPad, and the difference in quality really shows. I mean, I know no one takes The Huffington Post seriously, but it's like they're not even trying anymore. Obvious typographical error even in their 'literary' issue? (It was actually kind of good, apart from that ironic mistake.) Arianna Huffington can keep writing about the 'slow news movement' in her editor's letters all she wants. It's still not going to change the fact that Huffington is a pretty shallow magazine. Why am I still reading it then, you may very well ask. For the same reason that people read tabloids, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Episode 1521: A Tale Of Two Freshmen Comedies

Holiday episodes can make or break a comedy. Do you try to put a spin on what would otherwise be obvious family-related jokes, or do you get all kooky with the holiday theme? Or do you just, well, squander the opportunity altogether? Having seen the Thanksgiving episodes of The Mindy Project and The New Normal, I've come to the conclusion that the former is spiralling into disaster, whereas the latter might actually be headed towards serviceability. As such, it both horrifies and mortifies me to switch my endorsement from the one to the other. The Mindy Project delivered a mess of a Thanksgiving episode, in which the obvious main romantic triangle of Mindy/Danny/Jeremy was split up, which made for some weak jokes and a lot of cutting back and forth between storylines. (If you wanted a clear example of how half-hour comedies do A-, B- and C-plots within a single episode, this was pretty much it.) I initially thought this show had promise, but I'm starting to think it's a case of Mindy Kaling's creative control gone wrong. There are also casting changes coming up, with one series regular leaving, one demotion from regular to recurring, and one new recurring character with potential for promotion to regular. It looks like the show's still struggling to define itself among everything else in the TV landscape, but its ratings have already slipped enough for TV by the Numbers to label it a toss-up for renewal or cancellation. On the other hand, The New Normal has got a lot less shrill lately, although it's also obviously still trying to figure out what stories it can tell using its ensemble. Maybe having to divide his attention between three shows is helping Ryan Murphy to avoid straying into unfunny polemical territory? One can only hope, even if I wouldn't be surprised to see the show backpedal next week straight into strident diatribe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Episode 1520: Revolution, You're Clearly Not Going To Survive Your Winter Hiatus, Are You?

Revolution continues to frustrate, although the writers seem to have firmly switched their focus from Charlie to Miles. Guess they realised that she was boring? Either that or they really hate Tracy Spiridakos, because so far, her story still doesn't really exist beyond trying to save her brother. I mean, everyone else has had the benefit of character-centric pre-blackout flashbacks, which is the go-to method for establishing some depth to a character. (She might've had one, but it must have been really forgettable.) I'm curious to know what the Nielsen ratings will be for this latest episode. Revolution is still clearly NBC's highest-rated scripted show, but that's really not saying much. (I secretly hope that the retooled Season 2 of Smash will boost that show into a genuine hit, surpassing Revolution.) The winter hiatus is probably going to kill it off anyway. Four months between new episodes? The only shows that can survive a move like that are those ABC Family and USA shows that regularly split their shows into two half-seasons anyway, and have rabid fans to boot.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Episode 1519: A Clarke/Kubrick Comparison? I'll Take It!

There's a new review of Unthology No. 3 up at Rum & Reviews Magazine, in which the reviewer writes, 'The multidimensional world he creates [in 'The Triptych Papers'] is a bewildering place, reminding me a little of the final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey.' Prior to this, I wasn't aware that being compared to Arthur C. Clarke/Stanley Kubrick was one of my life goals, but hey, checking that one off the list as we speak. Now I really hope this story gets picked for that Singaporean reprint anthology. Either this one, or 'The Last Birthday', which The Misfit Quarterly has kindly agreed to nominate for the anthology too, as I think in terms of my fiction writing, they're the strongest stories that I've managed to publish so far, and it'd be nice to see them appear in a Singaporean anthology. Still no movement on the reviews front, but I'm hoping to use the Thanksgiving break for some of the TV shows that I follow to catch up on things! Was thinking of going to the library in Bishan earlier, since I had to change trains there anyway, but I figured that I already have enough on my plate in terms of reading, without actively seeking out more.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Episode 1518: NIE Beckons At Last...

So NIE has sent over stuff, so I'm no longer clueless as to what the next step in my life is going to look like. On the other hand, a fair amount of information has to be obtained by me at a later date, once it's available on the NIE Portal. So I'm not exactly 100% clued in yet. However, on the recommendation of friends who are already in NIE, I've set up another Gmail account, specifically for all NIE-related stuff. Partly for my own organisational purposes, partly because I don't relish the prospect of potentially having to repeatedly explain who the Perfect Sublime Masters were. Have also realised that another of my reviews editors does non-fiction titles, so suddenly, most of the urgency behind setting up my own reviews section for Eunoia Review has vanished. Or been postponed, at least. Need to find out first how much my friends can commit to doing if the reviews section becomes a reality. The other alternative is not to commit to making it a regular thing to begin with. Just leave it as something sporadic, maybe not even bothering to solicit books to be reviewed and instead take them as and when some publicist gets in touch.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Episode 1517: The Misfit Quarterly Is Out!

Farewell, 666 Park Avenue, Last Resort and Partners, we barely knew you. (Not really true, since they're all halfway through their initial 13-episode order. Meanwhile, The Mob Doctor has yet to be put out of its misery by Fox.) All three shows had clear potential, although only 666 Park Avenue manifestly failed to live up to it. Last Resort was probably hampered by its subject matter, which was definitely something different for a serialised drama but not exactly possessed of mass appeal, whereas Partners looked like an attempt by CBS to tick a comedy box not covered by the coarseness of 2 Broke Girls, the recycled relationship entanglements of How I Met Your Mother or the inanity of Two And A Half Men, which just couldn't seem to find a mainstream audience. Sure, sometimes the jokes tried a little too hard, but I was curious to see how it might've developed, and like I've mentioned before, CBS needs to start renewing its comedy slate. Maybe that was the problem though, that little in the show's plots so far indicated avenues for further development. On a different note, the inaugural edition of The Misfit Quarterly is now available and it looks gorgeous! I have a story in it (that first chapter of my abortive YA novel that actually works really well as a standalone piece), and you can find out how to get a free digital edition here. A huge thank you to AJ Leon and everyone else in the Misfit team!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Episode 1516: Humanities Mini-reunion

Got together with a bunch of JC friends for dinner at Cumi Bali and drinks at FRY Bistro after. It's always great meeting up with them, just to catch up. If I had to get philosophical about it, part of the appeal is how these friends represent a sort of continuity between my pre- and post-university life. Plus they know cool places to hang out that I don't know/never bother to find out about! The whole plan to start writing my review before I left in the evening didn't work out though, even if I've figured out my angle for the piece. It's not going to get written tomorrow either, given how little sleep I'm going to get tonight. Have to be up at 7 am to sing at a wedding in church, and it's already 2.30 am now! Taxi driver on the ride back home had really contemporary taste in music. Wasn't sure what he was listening to, sound quality was too poor to be a radio station, but there was Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, Adele, Avril Lavigne, and that was just in the 20 minutes or so that I was in the taxi. Pretty happy that the fare worked out to just over $25, inclusive of the 50% midnight surcharge.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Episode 1515: 30% Off = Lots Of New Books!

30% off at BooksActually today, so I came home with quite a haul. Won't allow myself to read any of it yet, of course. (There's also the interesting question of how I can possibly fit all my books in my room, once the Seven Seas boxes arrive. Will have to start banishing some stuff out of sight, into boxes, I guess. The question remains though. Which books to hide away?) What I have done is read The Lucky Star Of Hidden Things again, and my first impression of the collection has been confirmed. I like it, but not as unreservedly as other reviewers seem to, which did make me second-guess myself for a bit. I feel quite confident now that I'll be able to articulate what my reservations are in the review though, so I'm not too worried. Will aim to get at least a paragraph or two done before I go out tomorrow evening, and then probably finish the whole thing on Saturday afternoon (or evening, after procrastinating), after I get back from the wedding in church. Have already begun reading for my next review, which is a special issue of Bartleby Snopes. It's called Post-Experimentalism, and I'm not sure what that means yet, but the very first story that was told in tweet-sized paragraphs was pretty cool, so I'm optimistic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Episode 1514: Set Foot In NIE For The First Time!

Made my first trip ever to NIE today to view an art exhibition put on by some of my MOE friends. I think it's really cool that they could do something like this during their time at NIE. Can't imagine I'd be able to do anything similar as a Literature student. The journey itself to NIE and back was pretty straightforward, although I think the return leg gave me a headache. As much as the commute remains entirely unappealing, I still don't want to live in an NTU hostel though! Anyway, I finally sent a blurb off to a past Eunoia Review contributor for his upcoming poetry collection. Couldn't in good conscience offer to do a full review of it at this point, but I'm hoping that when I clear some of my backlog, he'll still be up for my reviewing it. Also scored a free e-book from Royal Pulp, coincidentally by another contributor to the journal. Am thinking that the press will be a good contact to have, if this as-yet hypothetical reviews section does eventually happen, which will be no earlier than January 2013. Everyone else seems to think it's a great idea, so I guess I ought to spend time figuring out how to make it happen, as opposed to trying to nip it in the bud, right?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Episode 1513: A Reviews Section?

Another book has been offered to me for review, a pair of essays on the Oulipo from Zer0 Books. Might end up having to turn this one down though, if Scott doesn't want it for The Cadaverine, as all my other reviews editors don't do non-fiction titles. Either that, or accept what is looking pretty inevitable these days and launch a reviews section of my own on Eunoia Review. I suppose it wouldn't have to be a full-fledged thing. Could just be an occasional review here and there, at least until I find someone to run the section. (Laura, Lesedi and Natasha have already offered to help.) Still, I'm hoping to put off the decision until I'm in the middle of my PGDE. If I can cope with it then, trying to build a team of reviewers and to get books coming in, I know I'll be able to cope with it in the long run. Anyway, I'm hopeful that Scott will okay the Zer0 Books title, since we've run a review of one of their non-fiction titles before, Phil Jourdan's powerful memoir, Praise Of Motherhood. (Come to think of it, did you give them my journal's e-mail, Phil?)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Episode 1512: Skyfall

While I was never one of those people who had an issue with Daniel Craig as the new Bond when he was first announced, I think Skyfall is the film that finally won me over fully. (I'm not old enough to have seen any other Bond than Pierce Brosnan, whom I personally thought was very likeable in the role.) The film itself was solid, like Craig's two other instalments in the franchise have been, but it was the Adele-backed opening credits that were truly amazing, the singer herself being an interesting soundtrack choice for what is fundamentally an action movie. (I personally think credit sequences are an underappreciated art, especially in the realm of television, which tends to favour title cards or recap sequences instead.) Another bold move was killing off Judi Dench as M, but I suppose it was a pragmatic decision as well, since however lovely she is as an actress, Ralph Fiennes is almost certainly going to outlive her and be able to play M in the next couple of Bond films. Ben Whishaw as Q was a nice touch too. Am I the only person who thinks his portrayal was clearly influenced by the character of Auggie from Covert Affairs? Now that Craig's signed on to do two more Bond films, it'll be interesting to see how the new character dynamics get developed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Episode 1511: A Couple Of Cool Discoveries

So I discovered a couple of things yesterday. Firstly, I can't believe that I haven't seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries until yesterday! It's a vlog adaptation of Pride And Prejudice, and it's brilliant. If anything, it actually makes me want to read the original Austen novel, which is pretty much the same reaction I had when I started reading Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. (Haven't finished it, in case you were wondering.) My other discovery was that the iPad edition of Intelligent Life, a cultural magazine from the publishers of The Economist, is free to subscribe to. Obviously, I've already downloaded all the available issues, and I hope Credit Suisse keeps sponsoring the magazine, although should the publishers start charging, I'd probably be happy to start paying as well. Now for a complete non sequitur, here's my review of Howie Good's Cryptic Endearments, my first for Sidekick Books. Have already read Afric McGlinchey's The Lucky Star Of Hidden Things in preparation for my second, and I've already got the third lined up, which will be Jerrold Yam's Scattered Vertebrae, the collection I was talking about in my last post.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Episode 1510: Full Circle

In what I suppose amounts to coming as full circle, Singaporean poet Jerrold Yam has asked me to review his upcoming collection from Math Paper Press, without realising that I'm also from Singapore. Our connection is that I'm publishing his poems in Eunoia Review from next Monday to Wednesday, all of which will also be in the new collection. (Do check them out, by the way, they're excellent!) This isn't the first review request to come my way via Eunoia Review (to be exact, it's the third within the past month), and once again, it's making me wonder if it would make sense after all to bring someone else on board to help run a reviews section, independent of the publication side of things. Incidentally, I've also completely caught up with my TV viewing. I would say it feels liberating, but then that would run the risk of mischaracterising things. It wasn't burdensome to get through all those dramas, comedies and dramadies, but it did take a lot of time, the sort of time that people can only afford to spend if they don't have to work. So in future, I'll almost certainly have to start being a lot more selective about what shows I actually follow on a weekly basis.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Episode 1509: Unthology No. 3 Launch!

Am down to just five episodes of television tonight, so I'm basically caught up with my viewing schedule. In completely unrelated news, I also purchased the newest title in the Angry Birds franchise, Angry Birds Star Wars. It's actually pretty cool, if a bit of a shameless marketing move on Rovio's part. Haven't explored enough to comment on any new game mechanics, although I did purchase a bonus pack of levels that features lightsaber-wielding birds, which was fun. Meanwhile, back in the UK, Unthology No. 3 is being launched at the UnLit Festival, which I really, really wish I could be at. I know I keep saying this, but it's absolutely true. So to make me feel better about not being there, everyone reading this should go buy the book! (Amazon UK here, US here.) It's full of brilliant stories, like the others in the series. There's a review of the book up at Sabotage Reviews as well, in which my story was singled out by the reviewer as her personal favourite. Made my day when I read the review, I have to confess.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Episode 1508: What's Up With Gossip Girl?

It continues to baffle me how most of the character relationships on Gossip Girl continue to circle in a holding pattern, given that the show is nearly halfway through its final season. This glacial pace would make more sense if the show had a full 22-episode order, but the writers have only been given 10 to wrap things up. I personally think The CW made a mistake here by overestimating the appeal of timeslot replacement The Carrie Diaries and that the ratings aren't going to be anything to shout about. On the other hand, I really hope Cult will succeed. Looks like it'll probably air on Friday, after Nikita, which means that the bar for ratings success will be lowered. Unless the network axes either Beauty & The Beast or Emily Owens, M.D.? Pros and cons both ways. The former is a procedural that diversifies the network's offerings, but it's also kind boring, especially airing after the whiplash-inducing plot twists of The Vampire Diaries. The latter pairs very, very well with Hart Of Dixie and Mamie Gummer is really likeable, but it's not exactly firing up the ratings for a newbie show and reinforces the image of The CW as only programming for the 18-49 Women demographic.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Episode 1507: Math Paper Press SWF Launch No. 4

Yeah, that title's no mistake. I just didn't make it to the launches on Sunday or Monday. Already picked up all the books though, when I went to the first one. Except Yeng Pway Ngon's Unrest, which I got today, along with a box set of his poems published by The Literary Centre in parallel English and Chinese text. Read the first volume of that (it's a set of five) a while ago, and really like Yeng's poetry, so since there was a single copy of the box set at the Festival Pavilion, I snapped it up. Anyway, I felt quite happy that I could understand what he was saying throughout the night, without translation. Also felt kind of inspired after he'd spoken to start reading more contemporary Chinese literature. Almost certainly not going to happen, if I'm being realistic, but at least it's something to aspire towards. Then I had an interesting chat on the MRT ride home with a Malay history teacher and fellow fan of Alvin Pang's writing. Was explaining how I sought to interpret the Merlion in my dissertation, and it was really nice to be met for a change with comprehension from a fellow Singaporean, rather than scepticism, which has pretty much been the default response when I've mentioned it in the past to people my age.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Episode 1506: When Meta Isn't Always Good

Depending on how far ahead a comedy like Partners is written and filmed, I'd say that this week's episode (which may have been aired out of order) was indicative of the show's going for broke, pun intended, as you'll soon see. CBS comedies aren't exactly famous for being meta, since that's more an NBC thing, although that network generally seems to be embarrassed by that brand of humour (see its treatment of critics' darling Community). This week, however, Partners seemed determined to rub its audience's faces in just how meta it could be, beginning with the episode's tongue-in-cheek title, '2 Broke Guys', an unsubtle reference to 2 Broke Girls, for which Partners is the lead-in. Then the show launched into an extended riff on Brandon Routh's turn as Superman (let's face it, probably still his best-known role). An NBC comedy could have pulled this off (yes, even insufferable The New Normal, I think), but on CBS, the meta moment just came off as forced, even if Routh's character is ironically the most likeable character on Partners.

Later on, the episode also gave us a slow motion-style scene of Routh and Sophia Bush's characters making sexy faces at the camera. Fairly lazy, as far as being meta goes, but hey, if the show had gone this direction right at the beginning of its run, it might've made it stand out in a year of fairly lacklustre TV debuts, if only for a week or two. (Yes, there's Revolution, which is still being hailed as an authentic hit of this TV season, but while I'm betting it's no one-and-done like FlashForward or The Event, I'm also convinced the show is hugely overrated and its ratings will reflect this when it comes back after its winter hiatus.) However, the real problem is that fundamentally, Partners isn't a show that is improved by being meta, the way that something like Community undoubtedly is. Partners is a relationship comedy, except the relationship at its core is a bromance, rather than the romantic endgames of something like How I Met Your Mother. As such, it works best when it's grounding itself in realism, albeit a heightened one where Michael Urie's witticisms are bookended by that staccato percussion line from Imagine Dragons 'On Top Of The World'. (Great song, by the way.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Episode 1505: 10 Episodes!

Suddenly remembered this morning that I'm meant to do a writing test tomorrow, but I might still call to reschedule if my cold isn't better tomorrow morning. After all, the e-mail did say that if I'm experiencing flu-like symptoms or unwell, I should inform them and they'll reschedule the test accordingly. On the other hand, there's a good chance I could rally by tomorrow, as I've actually felt better all day today than I did last night, and I would like to get the writing test out of the way, since it's already been arranged. Meanwhile, I've temporarily brought the number of outstanding TV episodes down to 10, but it's going to shoot up again tomorrow, of course. On a related note, I watched this week's episode of The Walking Dead, and was very satisfied that there were plot developments that Phil and I had forecasted, right at the beginning of this third season. Like Carl shooting Lori! I read an interview with Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Lori, and it was interesting to see what she had to say about filming her final episode, especially in terms of working with Chandler Riggs, the young actor who plays Carl.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Episode 1504: It's Been A While Since I've Had A Cold

Urgh. Am now definitely sick, which makes it hard to focus on reading anything. Going to skip tomorrow's launch of another two Math Paper Press titles, and probably Wednesday's as well, if I don't recover, but hey, at least watching TV doesn't require me to switch my brain on all that much (not even if I'm trying to be snarky about how ridiculous a show is), so I'll be doing plenty of that between sniffles. I kind of knew where the sore throat was headed anyway. It's pretty standard for me. I get a scratch throat, and a day or two after, it turns into a dripping nose. If I'm lucky, it clears up within a day or two after that. If not, I could be down for up to a week. Anyway, a clutch of solid submissions came in for Eunoia Review, so the publication queue is now pretty much five months long. At this point, what I really want to do is figure out how to continue growing the journal's audience. As I write this, the WordPress site has just reached 88888 all-time views. In monthly terms, viewership has also more or less stabilised/plateaued. I think to take it to the next level would require getting volunteers to come in to handle the social media side of the journal, since a decent proportion of the readership is funnelled to the site via Facebook and Twitter, but I obviously can't be as engaged with that as I'd like. I've also yet to tap into a steady audience from English-speaking countries outside the United States, so there's clearly room for getting more eyeballs on the work being published, which is what matters to me at the end of the day.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Episode 1503: One More For The Unofficial Blacklist

Another mildly infuriating submitter this morning. I think I've rejected 10 stories of his within the past month, and he finally fired back a request for me to point him to the 'best' story I've published in the past year. (Yes, 'best' in inverted commas, which seemed a little sarcastic, if you ask me.) One friend had the brilliant suggestion of just sending back the journal's URL and telling him that this was the best I've published all year and that he should read all of it. I'm not naïve enough to think that there aren't people who submit to me purely for the sake of chalking up another publication credit, with no interest in the rest of the journal's material, but at least don't make your ambition so naked. Plus there's just something about his stories that tend to rub me the wrong way. From his self-inserted copyright symbol (and let's not get into how amateurish that makes him look), I can tell that most of the stories are more than a decade old. They also read as if they've been filtered through the worldview of a businessman, which given the bragging in his attached biographical note, is entirely plausible as a conjecture. Well, he's another one headed for the unofficial blacklist, I'm afraid.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Episode 1502: Math Paper Press SWF Launch No. 1

Went to the launch of Alfian Sa'at's The Invisible Manuscript and Cyril Wong's Straw, Sticks, Brick, both published by Math Paper Press. Also bought all the other books save one that Kenny will be launching during the rest of the SWF, but that was through careless omission rather than choice, so I'll grab it when I pop by for the other launches on Monday and Wednesday. Probably buy other books as well, as a couple of things caught my eye in passing, but I was focusing on getting the Math Paper Press stuff. Also ran into Mohan from my RI choir days at the launch, which was nice because it meant I knew someone there other than Kenny and Alvin Pang. Serendipity, as he put it. Then I had a bit of an annoying e-mail exchange with a submitter on my way home. He'd basically sent me the same story that I'd already declined back in June, except when I pointed this out, his somewhat defensive reply was that he'd never received a rejection, only a message that his submission had no attachment, which was incidentally also what happened this time around. Debated replying to him and setting him straight with forwarded sent e-mails from June, but decided that this would've been unnecessarily petty on my part. Still, chalk one more up for the list of people from whom submissions will be viewed with a particularly sceptical eye, given their past behaviour.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Episode 1501: Now It's 20...

So I'm feeling better today, which somehow translated into me sending off a couple of submissions, something that I haven't done in a while. Also e-mailed Edwin Thumboo my completed dissertation, so it'll be interesting to see what he has to say about it. As for TV, I'm down to 20 episodes, aided by a decision to drop Vegas from my regular viewing schedule. It's been given a full series order by CBS, so it's going to be around for some time yet (although there's also no guarantee it'll make it to a second season), but there just hasn't been enough to grip me in the first three episodes that I've seen so far, especially given how crowded this year has become for me in terms of television. I'm aiming to catch up with all my shows by the weekend, although that might be tricky, given that I'm planning to attend a string of Math Paper Press launches in the coming days and I have a wedding ceremony and dinner to attend on Saturday. Have to devote time to catching up on my reading too, which I keep talking about and failing to actually do!